Safety Tips when Working at Height
Working at height is responsible for a high proportion of accidents in the workplace and it is imperative that as part of the drive to reduce such accidents that all those who work on MWPs and other such equipment are fully trained on PASMA and IPAF accredited courses. There are a great variety of courses available from many excellent center across the UK that target people who use different machinery or who are involved in working at height at various levels. This is, of course the number one recommendation when advising how to work at height without putting yourself at risk â€“ be properly trained. Let’s take a look at some of the other ways in which employees can work at height more safely.
Assess the working environment before getting started
This should be standard practice, but often the pressures of getting cracking override your common sense and this basic rule is ignored. There are 3 key steps involved in ensuring your working environment for the day is safe.
- Look around to spot any hazards that relate to falling from height. Are you (or others) using ladders, scaffolding or will you be working on roofs that may be unstable? Is there a risk of items falling from height?
2. Assess who of your team is most at risk from each hazard and make sure everyone is aware of the potential risks on site, mitigating them where possible.
- Make sure that there is a regular review of the site and any precautions that were in place before are still adequate.
Eliminate working at height wherever possible
This might sound obvious, but too often accidents happen when working at height when there would have been a safer way to get the job done. The fewer people who are placed in high risk working situations the better.
Never overload or overreach on ladders
A very basic, but essential rule of thumb is that anyone using a ladder should not take up items that will mean they exceed the highest load stated on the ladder. Obviously, this does not mean it is safe to carry heavy weights under the maximum load limit and common sense should be applied. Also, while on ladders your navel should remain inside the stiles and at any given time once you have reached working height you should maintain both feet on the same rung.
Use the right tools for the job
Part of your IPAF training should have taught you how to make sure that you choose the right equipment for each job that involves working at height. The choice between a ladder for instance or scaffolding, mobile access tower or powered access equipment is often dictated by the height you are required to reach. If you conclude that the height is above that safely reached by your ladder or scaffolding then you should rent or suggest the rental of suitable MWPs or other powered access equipment. When the equipment is being chosen, you must ensure that it is stable enough and strong enough to support the weight of whoever will be using it. Any protection around the edge should be strong enough to prevent a fall. Do not start a job with equipment that you strongly feel is inadequate.
Inspect and maintain equipment
All equipment used in working at height should be routinely inspected and maintained appropriately. This includes personal protection equipment such as lanyards and ropes.
This little mini guide to your ideal equipment check system is useful.
(a) Examination – checking for faults, damage, wear and tear or dirt
(b) Testing – make sure your equipment works properly before use
(c) Cleaning – all equipment works best if kept clean